Two Mediums: Rope and Paper
Unique Approaches in Mixed Media
There are many steps and stages to my art making process. I have been creating handmade wall hangings in mixed media for the past 20 years. All of the wall hangings and artwork I create are made of plant fiber, either in paper or rope form.
I make the paper myself in my studio.The papermaking process I work in is known as the western method of papermaking. I work with several different fibers; Abaca, Sisal, which comes from the Agave plant (a native South American plant), Cotton, and Hemp.
I can not grow these plants in my backyard in Cornish, NH, so I order them preprocessed and beaten, leaving me to rehydrate the fibers. I also process plant fibers from scratch, (harvesting, cooking, rinsing, and beating) to add texture and variety to my work. Examples of plants I have processed include Hosta, Rose petals, Loveage, Lily stems, and Queen Ann’s Lace.
I beat my pulp in a Hollander Beater (a second hand David Reina Beater purchased from artist Richard Langdell ). Plant fiber and water are placed in the trough of the beater and travel through the machine. A roll, similar to a gear shape, moves the water and fibers, and gently separates them as they are pressed between the roll and bedplate. While beating, I may add a few spoonfuls of spice or acrylic dye to add color.
I then take the finished pulp and disperse it in a vat of water.
I use a mold and deckle (a wooden screen), or a su (a removable bamboo screen) to form sheets of paper (known in the paper industry as a “wet leaf”).
While the sheets are still wet, I embed plant fibers, dried botanicals, mirrors, and gems to create various compositions in each paper art creation.
Once the sheets are dry, I paint and collage directly onto the handmade paper base. After painting, I may add stitching and bead work.
Each wall hanging is unique piece of art and titled accordingly. I usually sit in front of the finished work, contemplate the initial inspiration, and listen to what the end product has to tell me. I often find inspiration for the titles in poetry, such as the work of T.S. Eliot, the Tao Te Ching, and in the world of myth and religion. It is my hope that the title will offer the viewer a personal connection to each work of paper art but will not limit ones own creative interpretation.
A New Direction…Macrame!
Currently I am exploring directions in knotted rope- called Macrame. This is beyond the fancy plant hangers and chunky jute creations of the 1970’s. Did you know Macrame is an ancient decorative art form? Originally found as decorated fringe on blankets for camels in Arabia, macrame spread throughout the world when sailors would make knotted creations while at sea and sold them at ports around the world. Today, I take fine quality organic cotton rope and tie it into intricate knots to create textural patterns for wall hangings. I may add paper, or leave it as solo rope. Its all the same medium, cotton fibers, just like the paper but in a new form. It takes hundreds of feet of rope to make a simple wall hanging. I am interested in creating meditative wall hangings that reflect the world of nature and embody the spirit deep introspection and I look forward to continuing this evolution in my art.